‘Inspired’ by a short story collection by science fiction author Isaac Asimov, “I, Robot” is a fun action movie that owes a lot to Will Smith’s charismatic star power. Det. Del Spooner, an overly paranoid cop with a major case of survivor’s guilt, hates and distrusts all the robots who have become standard servants of man in the near future. So when Del has reason to believe that ‘Sonny’ (voiced by Alan Tudyk,) a highly intelligent and inquisitive robot (most robots are drones that exist only to serve) murdered apparent suicide victim and creator of robots Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell,) he’s all over the case.
Alfred Lanning created a set of rules within every robot for the safety of humanity, but it seems that Sonny, whether a killer or not, has the ability to bend or break the laws of robotics. Smart-ass Spooner teams up with an uptight robotics employee, Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan,) to uncover the plot behind Alfred’s death. Meanwhile Spooner finds himself being attacked by groups of robots, but as an distrusting full-fledged technophobe with a long history of hatred towards our cyborg friends, who will believe him?
“I, Robot” is an entertaining and action-packed adventure that occasionally hints at something more, although it is no doubt not as thought-provoking and pensive as the book on which it was based. People seem to pan the movie for that reason. ‘Why can’t it be more like the book?’ seems to be the common criticism. As someone who hasn’t read the book, I say that “I, Robot” does a perfectly good job presenting interesting ideas, but the result is more mainstream than philosophical.
Spooner isn’t really that far a cry from the other sarcastic action-heroes Will Smith has played, but the upside to this is that the role fits Smith like a glove. Spooner is cocky, very flawed guy with a pretty bad attitude, but you don’t really dislike him. For one thing, he makes you laugh, and for another when you find out his backstory you’ll feel for him. The moments between him and his grandmother Gigi (Adrian Ricard,) who loves him fiercely but absolutely doesn’t take any shit from him, are also poignant.
The special FX are effective, with another strong point being the voice and presentation of Sonny. Things have come a long way since “Star Wars” when R2-D2 was a midget in a blinking metal costume. Sonny is just human enough to be sympathetic while still being slightly unnerving. Props to bringing Susan and Spooner from mutual dislike to respect and possibly, romantic interest without any irritating flirtatious banter or unnecessary sex scenes.
“I, Robot” is a popcorn movie for sure, but it’s a fun, exciting popcorn movie that doesn’t insult your intelligence too much. Quite simply, if you like Will Smith’s “Men In Black” type character with his one-liners and sarcasm, you’ll like this movie. If you like good special effects and a decent story that keeps you guessing, you’ll also like it. People who are looking for excess depth or a totally creditable plot look elsewhere.